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2004 Ford E150 - License bulb is a PIA

Should be an easy fix, but turning out to have a challenge: License plate bulb is out. Remove two screws and replace, right? Well, turns out the screws just turn and turn and turn, and never actually come out. Drat. Any recommendations on what I could do to get them out, or otherwise remove that license plate bulb cover? Thanks!

It appears that your vehicle has bayonet style sockets that come off from the back with 1/4 of a turn.

Normally the bulb would be changed from the outside as the OP is attempting. I don’t know for sure, but these are probably just sheet metal screws that screw into a spring clip type of “nut” (see pic below). The threads may have rusted at the point of contact with the nut. If the screw heads can be grabbed with pliers, try pulling on them while turning to see if the threads will engage.
(Edit: The owner’s manual shows screws, but I’ve seen some pictures of replacement parts that suggest the lamp assembly is held in with plastic push rivets rather than screws, which would require pulling out somehow. Maybe this only applies to replacement parts.)

If that doesn’t work, the lamp socket (as shown above in previous post) will have to be accessed from inside the door, which would require removal of the interior door panel, if equipped. That would also allow access to the other end of the screws, where they could be pushed on while turning to attempt removal.

A cats paw tool can help remove the screws, even a screwdriver under the head of the screw.

But I think @NYBo is probably correct. Go in from the back. Usually if things don’t want to come out there is a reason for it.

If not, you need to use some pressure to pull the screw while turning it. I often used a wire cutter to wedge under the head of the screw to apply some pressure while turning the screw. But take a look at the back and save some time.

Just out of curiosity . . .

do you live in an area where the local law enforcement would definitely ticket you for a burnt out license plate bulb . . . ?

Because if that’s not the case . . . where I’m at, the local law enforcement would NOT cite me for such an insignificant defect . . . then maybe it’s not worth fixing this, if it turns into a big headache

Got a warning while picking up some buds at the airport for a license plate bulb out by walking patrol, Milwaukee airport, work van. One never know.

Drive the I44 through Oklahoma with a tag light out and you have a good chance of being stopped and introduced to the Highway Patrol drug sniffing dog.

It appears you just want to remove the bulb’s cover, which is held on by two sheet metal screws. They or the hole they screw into has probably rusted and now the screw is not catching the threads. If you can get some pulling force on the screw as you turn it, it will probably catch the threads and then you can back it out. One idea, glue a similar size bolt to the screw head. Then you may be able to pull on the bolt while you unscrew it at the same time. A drop of super-glue may be all you need. JB Weld is the alternative. Another idea is to glue the screw to the cover so it won’t turn. Then drill the screw out. Whether these ideas are better than approaching the problem from the other side of the panel, OP is in the best position to make that call.

I’ll add that I had trouble with the license plate light on my Ford truck. The cover came off ok, but the bayonet-style bulb was stuck fast, wouldn’t twist & come out of the socket. As I recall I had to break the bulb and twist the socket out using needle-nose pliers. Finding a replacement bulb for my 47 year old truck was no easy feat either, but on a 2004 – one bit of good news – that shouldn’t be a problem.

I got pulled over one time for a burned out license plate bulb, in a very dangerous location. So while it seems hard to believe the police would do something like that, by my experience they will. So you are right to correct this problem.

We’re talking about a license plate bulb

Here in Los Angeles, I can guarantee you won’t get pulled over for a burnt out license plate bulb

Yes they will around here. At least you would get stopped. Whether or not a fixit ticket is issued is another matter but it would hit their computer. The thing is though, it is “probable cause” for a stop. Then they can check license, insurance, any smell of alcohol, etc. Nothing wrong they can’t stop you. In my youth I got in a whole lot of trouble for a blinking light. Don’t care to go into it but just say I’m partial to the defense. I’ve got my 2021 tags on too not due until end of March, but that’s another little thing they look for.

That’s outrageous . . .

How is a burnt out license plate bulb any kind of indication that you might be “up to no good” . . . ?!

where I’m at the local law enforcement won’t even blink if they see a car with a burnt out license plate bulb. You could probably have various marker bulbs out, and they simply wouldn’t care

It’s probable cause is all. Anything wrong they can make a stop. Never know what they will find. I’m clean though and I like the guys and girls on the force but they’ll still check your credentials. A couple years ago a Texas plate car was heading north on the interstate but had one of those flashy diamond things hanging from his mirror. Distraction to vision so the patrol pulled him over. Big drug haul. Another one was 5 mph over but Texas plates. More drugs coming up. Still they gotta have a reason to pull you over. Texas plates aren’t enough. I rented a car last weekend and it had Texas plates. I didn’t have a problem but wondered who would have driven that POS all the way from Texas.

It’s not just a cover, it’s the whole lamp assembly, not that it matters as far as removal is concerned

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